Official’s Brain Injury In China Matches Cuba Problem – Pompeo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee May 23, 2018 on

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee May 23, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the brain injury sustained by an American official in China was “very similar” to those that affected US and Canadian diplomats in Cuba.

The US embassy in China issued a health alert Wednesday after a US government employee who had experienced an “abnormal” sound was diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

“The medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications that have taken place to Americans working in Cuba,” Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Pompeo said the US was moving medical teams to the area to work on the case.

“We are working to figure out what took place both in Havana and now in China as well,” Pompeo said.

He said the Chinese government has committed to helping in the case, under its responsibility to protect foreign diplomats.

In Cuba last year, 24 diplomats and their family members were left with mysterious injuries resembling brain trauma, which were suspected of being caused by a “sonic attack.”

Ten Canadian diplomats and their relatives also suffered a strange illness.

The US government has held Cuba responsible, arguing that Raul Castro’s authoritarian state must have either carried out the assaults or at least known who was behind them.

AFP

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Cuba Observes National Mourning After Air Crash Kills 110 Passengers

Emergency personnel work at the site of the accident after a Cubana de Aviacion aircraft crashed after taking off from

Many Feared Killed As Cuba Airliner Crashes On Takeoff
Emergency personnel work at the site of the accident after a Cubana de Aviacion aircraft crashed after taking off from Havana’s Jose Marti airport on May 18, 2018. PHOTO: Yamil LAGE / AFP

 

Cuba observed a weekend of national mourning for victims of its worst crash in nearly three decades that killed 110 passengers and crew.

An investigation has been launched into Friday’s crash of the nearly 40-year-old Boeing 737-200 leased to the national carrier Cubana de Aviacion by a Mexican company.

Three women pulled alive from the mangled wreckage and in hospital in critical condition were the only survivors. One of them was conscious and asked for something to drink, the hospital treating them said.

The Boeing crashed shortly after taking off from Havana, coming down in a field near the airport and sending a thick column of acrid smoke into the air.

The circumstances echoed those of Cubana de Aviacion’s worst air disaster nearly 30 years ago, in September 1989, when an Ilyushin 62 plane crashed on takeoff from Havana as it was headed to Italy. That disaster killed all 126 people on the plane, mainly Italian tourists, as well as around 45 people on the ground.

In Friday’s crash, the plane was on a domestic flight from Havana to the eastern city of Holguin. Most of the 104 passengers were Cuban, with five foreigners, including two Argentines, among them.

The plane was almost completely destroyed in the crash and subsequent fire. What appeared to be one of the aircraft’s wings was wedged among scorched tree trunks, but almost nothing remained of the main fuselage.

Cuba’s Transport Minister Adel Yzquierdo told reporters one of the plane’s two black boxes had been recovered in “good condition,” and the other was likely to be found within hours. Their data will be key to determining what happened.

Among the dead were 99 Cubans, six Mexican crewmembers, and five foreign tourists: two from Western Sahara, a Mexican tourist and an Argentine couple. A previous toll counted three survivors out of 110 passengers.

Condolences

Built in 1979, the plane was leased from a small Mexican company, Global Air, also known as Aerolineas Damojh.

Mexico said it was sending two civil aviation specialists to help in the investigation.

Boeing said a “technical team stands ready to assist” and it offered condolences to friends and relatives of the victims.

The mourning period was set to last until midnight on Sunday (0400 GMT Monday), the Communist Party leader and former president Raul Castro said. Flags were flown at half-mast throughout the country.

Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Castro as the communist island’s leader only last month, appeared aghast as he surveyed the recovery efforts, wearing a short-sleeved shirt and surrounded by officials.

He visited the capital’s morgue where the bodies were taken for identification, and met relatives who were being put up in a city hotel. He also visited the three survivors in hospital.

Castro sent his condolences to families bereaved in the “catastrophic accident,” a statement read, as Russian President Vladimir Putin and a string of Latin American leaders also expressed sympathy.

Pope Francis asked the church in Cuba to convey condolences to families “who mourn the unexpected disappearance of loved ones.”

Anguish in Mexico

The plane took off from Havana at 12:08 pm (1608 GMT) Friday heading for Holguin, 670 kilometers (415 miles) to the east.

At the capital’s morgue, Ignacio Ramirez, 46, told of how he lost his 22-year-old cousin, Carlos Santos, in the crash.

“He had come to Havana to get a girlfriend who had arrived from Mexico, and was returning to Holguin,” he said.

Santos’s mother, who lives in the US, was traveling to Cuba to give a DNA sample to confirm her son’s identity.

In Mexico City, anguished relatives and colleagues of the crew gathered outside the company’s offices demanding information — some of them hugging and crying.

“I was friends with the captain, with the co-pilot, with the head flight attendant,” said a former Global Air employee, 44-year-old Ana Marlene Covarrubias.

“When I heard the news on the phone, I thought it was one of those jokes people play,” she told AFP.

Global Air had the necessary permits to lease it, and had passed inspections in November last year, according to the company. The crashed aircraft was one of its fleet of three Boeing 737s.

A Mexican pilot who used to work for Global Air between 2005 and 2013, Marco Aurelio Hernandez, told the Mexican newspaper Milenio that he had previously flown the doomed plane.

Hernandez said he had lodged a complaint at the time about what he regarded as sub-standard maintenance on Global Air’s aircraft.

A Global Air spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that Hernandez had worked at the company but declined to comment on his allegations.

Prior to Friday’s crash, Cuba’s most recent air accident was in April 2017, in which eight military personnel died when a Russian-made AN-26 transport aircraft went down in western Cuba.

AFP

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107 Perish In Cuban Plane Crash

Only three persons survived when a Cuban plane with 110 passengers and crew on board crashed shortly after taking off

Only three persons survived when a Cuban plane with 110 passengers and crew on board crashed shortly after taking off from Havana on Friday, officials confirmed.

Cuban state media reported that three women had been pulled alive from the mangled wreckage and were in critical condition in hospital.

They were the only known survivors from the nearly 40-year-old Boeing 737, operated by Cubana de Aviacion. It crashed into a field close to a wooded area near Jose Marti airport, sending a thick column of acrid smoke into the air.

The 110 people aboard included six Mexican crew, said the Mexico-based company that leased the plane, Global Air, also known as Aerolineas Damojh.

Two victims were Argentine, the country’s foreign ministry said. Most of the others were Cuban, according to state media.

The plane — carrying 104 passengers — was almost completely destroyed in the crash and subsequent fire. Firefighters raced to the scene along with a fleet of ambulances to put out the blaze, as emergency personnel combed through the wreckage.

What appeared to be one of the wings of the plane was wedged among scorched tree trunks, but the main fuselage was almost entirely destroyed.

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who visited the scene, said an investigation has been opened into the disaster, and that its findings would be made public as soon as possible. A press conference was scheduled for 1900 GMT on Saturday.

The 58-year-old president, who succeeded Raul Castro as the communist island’s leader only last month, appeared aghast as he surveyed the recovery efforts, wearing a short-sleeved green shirt and surrounded by officials.

He said an investigation into the cause of the accident was underway.

Cuba declared two days of national mourning.

Raul Castro sent condolences to families of the victims of the “catastrophic accident,” a statement read, as Russian President Vladimir Putin and a string of Latin American leaders also expressed sympathy.

Airport sources said the plane took off at 12:08 pm (1608 GMT) heading for the eastern city of Holguin, 670 kilometers (415 miles) away.

From the supermarket where he works near the airport, Jose Luis, 49, said he could see the plane taking off before it banked and plunged to the ground.

“I saw it taking off. All of a sudden, it made a turn, and went down. We were all amazed,” he said.

Yasniel Diaz, a 21-year-old musician, said the pilot appeared to attempt an emergency landing, but crashed instead.

“The explosion shook everything,” he said.

“I started running, I was so afraid.”

Images from Cuban television showed rescue workers at the scene removing what appeared to be a survivor on a stretcher as rain began to fall.

– Anguished relatives –

Global Air said the plane was flying with a crew of six Mexicans — the pilot, co-pilot, three flight attendants and a maintenance technician.

In Mexico City, anguished relatives and colleagues of the crew gathered outside the company’s offices demanding information — some of them hugging and crying.

“I was friends with the captain, with the co-pilot, with the head flight attendant,” said a former Global Air employee, 44-year-old Ana Marlene Covarrubias.

“When I heard the news on the phone, I thought it was one of those jokes people play,” she told AFP.

Mexico said it had sent two civil aviation specialists to help in the investigation.

The Mexican communications and transportation ministry said the plane was built in 1979. Global Air had the necessary permits to lease it, and had passed inspections in November last year, it said.

The company, formed in 1990, had a fleet of three planes, all Boeing 737s.

Prior to Friday’s crash, Cuba’s most recent air accident occurred in April 2017, when eight military personnel died when a Russian-made AN-26 transport aircraft went down in western Cuba.

The country’s last major airline disaster was in November 2010 when a Cuban Aerocaribbean jet crashed on a flight from Santiago de Cuba to Havana, killing all 68 people on board, including 28 foreigners.

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Many Feared Killed As Cuba Airliner Crashes On Takeoff

Emergency personnel work at the site of the accident after a Cubana de Aviacion aircraft crashed after taking off from

Many Feared Killed As Cuba Airliner Crashes On Takeoff
Emergency personnel work at the site of the accident after a Cubana de Aviacion aircraft crashed after taking off from Havana’s Jose Marti airport on May 18, 2018. Yamil LAGE / AFP

 

A Cuban state airways plane with 104 passengers on board crashed shortly after taking off from Havana Friday, leaving a wreck of smouldering fuselage, as the country’s president warned many people were feared dead.

The Boeing 737 operated by Cubana de Aviacion crashed into a field close to a wooded area near Havana’s Jose Marti airport, sending a thick column of acrid smoke into the air, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

The plane was almost completely destroyed in the crash and subsequent fire. Firefighters, some still hosing down the burnt fuselage, and rescue workers combed through the wreckage, but there seemed little chance of finding survivors.

What appeared to be one of the wings of the plane was wedged among scorched tree trunks, but the main fuselage appeared to have been entirely destroyed.

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who went to visit the scene, said there was a “high number” of casualties.

“There has been an unfortunate aviation accident. The news is not very promising, it seems that there is a high number of victims,” Diaz-Canel was quoted as saying after his visit.

Diaz-Canel said nine crew members were believed to have been on board, in addition to the passengers.

The 58-year-old president, who succeeded Raul Castro as the island’s leader only last month, appeared aghast as he surveyed the recovery efforts, wearing a short-sleeved green shirt and surrounded by officials.

Airport sources said the jetliner was heading from the capital to the eastern city of Holguin.

State television said the airliner was operated by a foreign crew, but gave no details.

Reports said European airline Blue Panorama had been leasing a 737-400 plane to Cubana de Aviacion for several months.

The last major airline crash in Cuba was in July 1997, when an Antonov-24 passenger plane fell into the sea off Santiago de Cuba. All 44 aboard were killed, including two Brazilians and two Spaniards.

In March 2002, a small Antonov-2 plane travelling from Cienfuegos to Cayo Coco crashed in the central province of Santa Clara. All 16 people aboard, among them six Canadian tourists, four Britons and two Germans.

AFP

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Airliner Crashes On Takeoff From Havana

(FILES) In this file picture taken on April 28, 2009, shows an empty check-in desk of Cubana de Aviacion airline

Airliner Crashes On Takeoff From Havana
(FILES) In this file picture taken on April 28, 2009, shows an empty check-in desk of Cubana de Aviacion airline in Mexico City’s international airport. Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP

 

 

A Cuban state airways plane with 104 passengers on board crashed shortly after taking off Friday from Havana’s Jose Marti airport, leaving a thick column of smoke over the scene.

The Boeing 737 operated by Cubana de Aviacion crashed in a field near the airport, and a column of acrid smoke was rising over the crash site, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

There were no initial reports of casualties on the ground.

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who went to visit the scene, said there was a “high number” of casualties.

“There has been an unfortunate aviation accident. The news is not very promising, it seems that there is a high number of victims,” Diaz-Canel was quoted as saying shortly after visiting the scene.

Diaz-Canel said nine crew members were believed to have been on board, in addition to the passengers.

Airport sources said the jetliner was heading from the capital to the eastern city of Holguin.

State television said the airliner was operated by a foreign crew, but gave no details.

Reports said European airline Blue Panorama had been leasing a 737-400 plane to Cubana de Aviacion for several months.

AFP

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